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Pay attention to what your data is telling you… teach like your hair’s on fire… read below for details!

Follow the data road… how many times have you all heard the expression to “teach from your data?” I suspect everyone of you who is currently reading this post! Well, I want to remind you this morning, that now, maybe more than ever, teach to what your data is telling you!

Recently, Renaissance Place a.k.a. STAR reading and all of their other wonderful tools, published somewhat of a correlation study that is oh so powerful! You can read and download the study here to see for yourself!


Now, I understand that you are not interested in all of the “technical statistics” associated with the study; however, I do think that you will be interested in what the essentials of the study yielded for us.

For the first correlation that STAR ran, they looked at 13,590 students in Mississippi that had taken the STAR Reading assessment more than 30 days before the mid-date in the MAP testing window. This correlation was to ensure that there was a strong correlation between the two scales — that of STAR and that of MAP — make sense? In other words, “since I know I am comparing apples and oranges (STAR and MAP), how closely correlated are these scales. The answer yielded a correlation of anywhere from .78 to .81. Specifically, the correlations yielded for each grade level are:

3rd Grade ELA: .78

4th Grade ELA: .77

5th Grade ELA: .80

6th Grade ELA: .79

7th Grade ELA: .81

8th Grade ELA: .81

Now, so that you can interpret that correlation, here are the basic rules: (1) .60 is considered to be the measuring stick and is a good, strong correlation; and (2) 1.00 is a perfect correlation. So, if you look back at those correlations yielded for each grade level, then you can see that these correlations are hugely strong which basically states that these two scores are highly correlated with each other. So, the scores that your students make on the STAR assessment with anywhere between 77%-81% accuracy line up/compare/associate with their respective MAP score. Because of this, using a formula that you would care nothing about LOL, STAR was able to link the STAR scores to the MAP scores and place them on the same scale. If you would like to see that scale, please head to this link for the study (trust me, you need to download this study… so interesting!)

Secondly, because this first correlation yielded such a strong predictive indicator, the second correlation ran was to determine if you, as a teacher, could put a lot of faith in that last STAR score that your students receive (some districts have already assessed; some are doing now, and then some in the next week or so), and how close will it “match” the MAP score they receive/earn/score. Make sense? Again, the study yielded hugely strong positive correlations meaning whatever a student scores on the STAR assessment, there is anywhere between 72%-85% accuracy rate that this is what they will score on the ELA component of the MAP assessment. The individual grade correlations are as follows:

3rd Grade: .81

4th Grade: .72

5th Grade: .81

6th Grade: .79

7th Grade: .84

8th Grade: .85

Yes, HUGELY STRONG! So, what are your take-aways from this information…

(1) When did your students last assess on STAR reading? Make sure to get a current score, and set up the optimal environment for the assessment. Make sure the students understand, in their terms, how important it is that you get an accurate picture of what their strengths and weaknesses are.

(2) After you have given the STAR assessment, go to reports and instructional planning for the class and capture the following: (1) correct teacher name and period; (2) the benchmark should be set to “MAP Assessment;” (3) check the date and make sure that it is the most current date for the assessment; and then use the table on page 5 of the study and group the students into five instructional groups — the same levels as the MAP assessment and see what this looks like.

(3) Next, view the report and download to print. This yields your differentiated instructional groups within your classroom and lets you know what standards/objectives need remediation — the critical focus skills are indicated with an arrow to the left of them. What is interesting is that you will most likely find commonalities among the groups. You can also determine who is really close to moving to the next level as well as who is close to moving to the upper range of the entire performance level, which of course, helps in the growth formula. Secondly, you might also find similar deficits in both Reading Literature and Reading for Information. Investigate your results and teach from this data like your hair’s on fire LOL. Also, please don’t forget that you have access to the Progressions for Core Learning inside of Renaissance Place. If you will look at the top right hand side when on your instructional planning report, you will see the link in blue. This gives you the complete progression for all of the standards in that you might have to scaffold some of these deficits.

With such a strong correlation, you can rest assured, these are the gaps the students have in their knowledge and will show up on the MAP assessment.

At this stage of the game, I would suggest that you work on series of mini-lessons remediating these gaps/deficits. Not only should you work with mini-lessons but go to the latest practice MAP assessment for your grade level, and pull the sample items on this and work through the metacognitive process for answering the question. This is hugely important!

For example, we all know that we teach “how to write a summary” and we get our kiddos to write summaries; however, if you look at the latest practice assessment, they are not asked to write summaries; the standard is assessed in an entire different manner. Some might argue that this is “teaching to the test.” Well, to this I say, no, you are teaching the standard that the state has placed in your responsibility. When you model the metacognitive process for understanding the question and what it is asking on the assessment, I think that you are “simply leveling the playing field” meaning your entire goal on the MAP Assessment is for students to be able to showcase what they know. Sometimes, even the brightest of the bright, are crippled by not understanding the question/statement/stem/distractors, etc. Doing this will make a huge difference. Now, take heed… if you assign practice test items from now until test day, chances are that your students will be sick of practice testing and therefore will not be in the “best of sorts” as my mom would say to do their best. Strike a healthy balance!!

As well, in the next several days, we will address the motivation, self-esteem, and confidence that the students need going into the assessment. It can make all the difference in the world. Think about when you were faced with Praxis I and II, and then maybe even the mighty GRE… not a great feeling! Same scenario with your students!

Finally, if you have any questions whatsoever, please reach out to me, and hopefully I can help you or put you on the right track to get the help that you need!

Teachers of Mississippi, you’ve got this in the bag!

Have a great Wednesday!


Follow the Yellow Brick Road… No! Follow the Data Road!
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